From a geographical point of view, Romania is the twelfth-largest country in Europe , with approximately 19 599 506 inhabitants and comprising a surface area of 238 391 km2, of which 87 percent (207 372 km2) represents rural areas and 13 percent represents urban areas (31 018 km2). Romania with its vast landscapes and inland waters, represent 3 percent of the total surface. There are 400 000 ha of natural lakes and ponds, manmade reservoirs, including the Danube Delta; 84 500 ha of fish farms; 15 000 ha of fish nursery areas; 66 000 km of rivers of which 18 200 km are in the mountain area; 1 075 km are located in the lower part of the Danube. Romania has a 250 km coastline along the Black Sea, while the exclusive economic zone covers 25 000 km2. However, most of the fisheries activities are carried out within the 12 mile-zone and in inland waters.
Nowadays, over 70 000 ha are used in Romania as fish ponds and represent a great advantage for the development of aquaculture in the Country. In order to increase the productivity of the fish farms, most of them will be modernized. Particular attention is given to the process to be directed to the trout culture in mountain areas, to increase the income of local people.
To assess the real potential of this sector in Romania, the National Agency for Fishing and Aquaculture, together with other competent public services and administrations, will examine all sites proposed for aquaculture (land and water) and will decide on the type of aquaculture and breeding system to be promoted. A relevant Master Plan will then be produced for sustainable development over the next 20 years.
This plan will also take into account other factors, such as collective requests for sanitary measures, high quality fingerlings production, possibility for local fodder processing (imported at the moment, for intensive aquaculture), improved energy use, etc.
The most important group of cultured species in Romania is represented by cyprinids, particularly common carp, which is much appreciated in the Country.
Production from aquaculture excluding nurseries and hatcheries was, in 2010, 1 400.11 tonnes.
Although the share of the fisheries sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was of only 0.0054 percent in 2005, this sector is important for the national economy mostly due to its social role, to its potential as a food-source, to its wetlands and to the biodiversity of the Romanian waters.
The fisheries sector includes aquaculture, marine and inland fishing activities, as well as the related processing and marketing activities. Romania’s main fishery production component is represented by aquaculture, followed by the inland fisheries. The fisheries activities along the coastline of the Black Sea remain limited compared to inland fisheries.
Romania has a good market for common carp. In order to increase fish consumption, carp production, as well as the diversification of other cultured fish species will be encouraged. Diversification in aquaculture concerns high value species as sturgeons, turbot, mussels or freshwater prawns.
Current fish farming activities are extensive. Because of the location of the fish ponds, most of the production capacity of some farms relies solely on the natural productivity. Fish farming has not been subsidized so far. Financial support has only been granted for the preservation and improvement of fish genetic heritage. All current fish farming facilities need to be modernized. The rehabilitation of some areas is also needed to increase fish farming production.
Total number of fish farms registered in the Aquaculture Units Registry, managed by the National Agency for Fishing and Aquaculture, which issues aquaculture licences was as follows: in 2008, 857 companies carrying out aquaculture activities were registered (87 471.29 ha), of which 246 had hatcheries and nurseries (only 7 359.664 ha). In 2005, 2 781 people were employed in the aquaculture sector (of which approx. 90 percent were men), representing over 40 percent of the total man power in the fisheries sector. The full time employees were 2 333, while 448 were part-time or occasionally recruited. People between 40-60 years of age were 601 (21.61 percent), 2 161 people were between 20-40 years of age (77.71 percent) and 19 people under 20 years of age (0.68 percent) were employed in aquaculture activities. Concerning the training level of people involved in the fisheries sector, the situation is as follows: higher education employees represents the 14.71 percent of the total, high school education employees 41.21 percent and elementary education employees, namely workers, 44.08 percent.
In Romania, the structure of aquaculture population is dominated by cyprinids, representing almost 85 percent of the total production, followed by trout, perch, pike, catfish and fresh water sturgeons (15 percent). The farming system traditionally used in Romanian aquaculture is extensive or semi-intensive, mainly based on cyprinid policulture rearing in ponds. Currently, most basins are degraded, only in the past few years modernization funds being accessed through the Operational Programme for Fishing. Most of the areas set up for aquaculture are not appropriate for this activity, especially as they have not been adapted to the requirements of an efficient production process. In the past years, cages, located in lakes, have started to be used for the rearing of valuable species, such as sturgeons. There is also increasing interest for the deveopment of recirculating systems, a farm for turbot rearing being under development close to Constanta.
There are no detailed data available on the production yield per area, but taking into account the total production and total registered aquaculture farms in 2008 (total production 12 496 tonnes and total surface utilized in fish farms 87 471.29 ha) the estimated average production is 142.85 kg/ha.
In view of practicing marine aquaculture, as well as exploiting natural marine mollusc stocks, the implementation of the 79/923/EEC Directive, on the shellfish water quality, was carried out, by identifying four suitable areas for their culture and exploitation (according to GD no. 467/2006 on the modification of the Technical Regulation on Mollusc Water Quality, approved by GD 201/2002).
The main cultured species in Romania are common carp (Cyprinus carpio), silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus), goldfish (Carassius auratus), rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), crucian carp (Carassius carassius) and sea trout (Salmo trutta). These species account for 90 percent of the total production. In addition, northern pike (Esox lucius), wels catfish (Silurus glanis) and, more recently beluga (Huso huso) and sturgeons (Acipenser ruthenus, A. stellatus, A. guldenstaedti) are also reared. Currently, marine aquaculture in Romania is at its initial stages, a single mussel farm being registered farming Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis), despite the fact that certain studies suggest that there is interest and there are possibilities for developing this sub-sector.
The rearing tanks are the classical water flow tanks used in trout farms and earth basins (stews or ponds) for cyprinids; aquaculture in floating cages or recirculating systems has started only in the past few years, by accessing European funding through the Operational Programme for Fishing.
It is importatnt to underline the fact that, out of the 140 projects financed through the Operational Program for Fishing, amounting approximately. EUR 100 million, 107 aim at developing/restructuring/modernizing aquaculture farms and processing plants, which are the key for success in future aquaculture development in Romania. Among all these projects, only one is dedicated to marine aquaculture (turbot rearing in recirculating system).
The main aquaculture practices are extensive or semi-extensive fish farming.
In Romania, there are over 500 fish farms, covering a total surface of approximately 80 000 ha, plus a 400 vessel fleet (mainly for inland waters). Nevertheless, local producers are small sized, with the internal fish production covering less than 20 percent of the total fish consumption in Romania.
In 2010, aquaculture production was 8 781 tonnes, being dominated by common carp (C. carpio 2 888.10 tonnes) and by the three carp species (H. molitrix, H. nobilis and C. idellus overcoming carp production 3 119.67 tonnes).
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in according to FAO statistics:
Currently, there are 80 associations active in fishing, aquaculture and processing sectors that are recognized by the National Agency for Fishing and Aquaculture. The trade in fish and fish products on the domestic market is mainly conducted by fish farms, processing plants, importers, wholesalers and retailers. Until 1990, fish consumption was about 8 kg per capita. This consumption level dropped down to 2 kg/capita/year during 1990-2000, rising up again to 4.5 kg/capita/year in 2005. The increased consumption is linked to imported products. A wider range of products is available on the Romanian market. A change in the consumers’ preferences towards new species and new forms of presentation (fillets, headless, eviscerated) determines also an increasing demand for fisheries products.
Domestic market is supplied with fish coming from marine fishing, freshwater fisheries (catch or aquaculture) and from imports. The Romanian market offers the following forms of fishery products: live fish, full fish (fresh, refrigerated or frozen), primary processed fish (eviscerated, beheaded, filleted, cut), semi-prepared (marinated, pasted, fish roe, salted, smoked fish), canned fish (in oil, in tomato sauce, other types).
The available quantities for the domestic market reached 92 696.90 tonnes in 2005, representing an increase by 48.19 pecent as compared to 2001 and by 18.89 pecent as compared to 2004, and were mostly covered by imports. The demand coverage ratio by domestic products decreased every year, reaching 14.40 percent in 2005.
As for the foreign trade in fish and fish products, the exports have decreased continuously from 1989 on, mostly because of the low range of fishing products on the market. During 2001-2005, the average volume of exports was of 693.37 tonnes/year, as compared to imports of 60 336.40 tonnes/year. According to the data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Rural Development (MAFRD), imports increased by 22.19 percent, from 65 604 tonnes in 2004, to 80 160.60 tonnes in 2005, while exports increased by 4.60 percent, from 779.80 tonnes in 2004, to 815.70 tonnes in 2005.
Although the contribution of the fisheries sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was of only 0.0054 percent in 2005, this sector is important for the national economy, mostly due to its social role, to its potential as a food and nutritional source of proteins, to its wetlands and to the biodiversity of the Romanian waters. The fisheries sector includes aquaculture, marine and inland fishing activities, as well as the related processing and marketing activities. Romania’s main fishery production component is represented by aquaculture, followed by the inland fisheries. The marine activities along the coastline of the Black Sea remain limited compared to the inland fisheries.
The contribution of the fisheries sector to the Gross Value Added (GVA) is very low, indicating values between 0.0043 percent in 2000 and 0.0062 percent in 2005.
Romania’s fishery production dropped dramatically between 1995-2005, from 18 675 tonnes in 1998 to 13 352 tonnes in 2005. The fishery production in 2005 was broken down as follows: aquaculture 7 284 tonnes (54.55 percent), inland water fishing 4 042 tons (30.27 percent), Black Sea fishing 2 026 tonnes (15.17 percent). This dramatic decrease of the production (both fresh and sea water fisheries) is mainly the consequence of the transition to the market economy (low investments in this sector) and of the unclear institutional and legal framework.
The current domestic fisheries production cannot cover the internal market demand, which is continuously increasing. This is compensated by imports that represent an important amount of the fish market in Romania 80 161 tonnes in 2005, while exports were only 816 tonnes.
Compared to the national consumption, the domestic production indicates a constant decrease, from 24.31 percent in 2003, to 16.86 percent in 2004 and to 14.40 percent in 2005. As for the fish consumption per capita, it grew from about 2 kg in 1990, to about 4.5 kg in 2005.
In Romania, the overall responsibility for the design and for the development and implementation of the fisheries policy falls under the auspices of the National Agency for Fishing and Aquaculture (NAFA), which is a public institution entirely financed from the state budget. NAFA is part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
NAFA delegates part of its duties related to the management of fisheries resources in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve to the Administration of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve; part of the duties related to mountain waters are delegated to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
NAFA draws-up the strategy and the legal framework for fisheries in Romania. NAFA is also responsible for the technical implementation of measures and for the control of regulations and activities in fisheries and aquaculture.
In order to achieve its objectives, NAFA has the following main tasks:
The main institution governing aquaculture in Romania is NAFA.
Others institutions with attributions regarding product quality and environment are:
NAFA, under the provisions of Decision no. 545, 1 July 2010, on the organization, structure and functioning of the National Agency for Fisheries and Aquaculture:
Training in aquaculture at undergraduate level is offered by the National Agency for Agriculture Consultancy, which is under the direct coordination of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. In addition, in Romania there are some training centres authorized to develop training courses for workers in aquaculture (especially for fish culture).
Within specialized high school education, there are several vocational high schools training students as “fish farming operators“ (e.g. Nucet Agricultural High School, Dâmbovița County, operating since 1901).
The lack of investments, the degradation of fishery and aquaculture facilities, the increase of production costs, the rythm of privatizations and the uncertain legal status of the lands have all led to a decrease of the production in aquaculture, that, in 2007, represented only 36.73 percent as compared to 1995.
Low productivity and poor quality of products are mainly influenced by: limited access to credit, insufficient and inefficient use of existing resources, obsolete infrastructures and equipments, energy intensive technologies, insufficient training of the staff, lack of or inefficient management and marketing knowledge (most domestic companies still base their strategies on cost reduction and not on productivity increase).
There is also an important gap between imports and exports, the main cause is a poor diversity of valuable aquaculture species, as well as a narrow range of processed products.
Poor organization of the market is another issue. Due to the lack of first-sale facilities and to the lack of producers’ organizations, the production-processing-trading chain has been up to now poorly organized and there is a lack of transparency on the market.
The administrative capacity is not developed enough in terms of resources management and implementation of an efficient control system, to enable the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The main problems consist in the weak training of staff members and in the insufficient endowment of institutions.
The lack of specific infrastructure and environmental protection caused significant problems, after decades of insufficient investments. As for the infrastructure of fishing ports, with specialized quays, warehouses and locations for first-sale, it is completely missing.
Scientific research has many problems, due to a long period of under-funding and insufficient technological transfer.
In this context, the priorities of the strategy shall be established around the following three development milestones:
With regards to the second milestone, the transition to a market economy should be complemented by the development of an internal market, allowing the Romanian enterprises not only to increase their internal competitiveness but also the compettiveness on a new open market. In doing this, Romania shall ensure higher quality standards for the consumers of fisheries products and thus support the development of the entire fisheries sector. The internal market development should be accompanied by the development of basic infrastructures contributing to the organization of the entire market chain, from producers to consumers, and to increase the productivity of the Romanian fisheries sector.
With regards to the third milestone, an important issue will be the improvement of the administrative capacity of the Romanian fisheries administration. One priority will be the development of networking and of IT tools with the regional fisheries administration and the implementation of the CFP. To meet the community obligations, the Romanian fisheries administrations should be reinforced so as to meet the community requirements in due time.
In order to ensure food safety and to meet the consumption needs of the population from a quantitative and qualitative point of view, in line with the acquis communautaire, there is a clear need to encourage new investments under this strategy (processing, marketing).
NAFA Romania - National Strategic Plan for Fisheries 2007-2013
NAFA Romania - official statistics